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Owner of 13-pound dog shot to death by Sturgeon cop sues officer, city


The owner of a 13-pound, blind-and-deaf dog that was shot to death by a Sturgeon police officer on May 19 is filing a lawsuit against the officer and the city.

Nicholas Hunter filed a lawsuit against the City of Sturgeon and Officer Myron Woodson on Tuesday in the Western District Court of Missouri. Hunter is alleging his Fourth Amendment rights were violated and municipal liability.

“It was unreasonable destruction of Mr. Hunter’s property, in this case, Teddy, and the state cannot do that unless they have a warrant or they have a really, really, really good reason. In this case, there was no good reason,” Hunter's lawyer, Daniel Kolde said “ There was no attack here. Teddy was walking away from this cop, repeatedly trying to walk away from this cop.  And by the way, its a 13-pound blind and deaf Shih Tzu couldn't have done any damage to this  man, even if even if Teddy  had been so inclined, which there is absolutely no evidence of on the body camera.”

Hunter and another person -- who had called Boone County Joint Communications to report the missing dog was in their yard, and stated it was not aggressive -- had filed complaints to the city on Monday, May 20. The second person previously asked ABC 17 News to remain anonymous, out of fear of possible retaliation.

Body camera footage from Woodson – which ABC 17 News obtained through a records request – showed that Woodson had shot the dog in about three minutes from his initial contact with the animal. The lawsuit alleges that Woodson told Hunter he spent 10 minutes trying to catch the dog.

The lawsuit states that Teddy, the 13-pound Shih Tzu that was shot and killed, was “easily able to outsmart Defendant Woodson and evade capture,” because of Woodson’s “inability to properly use his catchpole.”

“This officer has absolutely no training and had no idea how to use this catch pole. He’s not using it correctly. He’s using it one-handed,” Kolde explained. “You can’t use the thing one handed it doesn’t work. What happens when you try to use the thing one-handed is what happened here and the dog just walks away.”

Kolde also took issue with Woodson's exchange with Hunter the night of the incident, which was also caught on body cam footage.

“Woodson says ‘We don’t have freaking animal control here’ he’s flat-out wrong. He’s animal control. It says so in the ordinance. He either didn’t know it, didn’t think about it or didn’t care.” 

On May 20, the city claimed in a social media post that the officer saw the dog “behaving strangely and displaying signs of possible injuries” that was “perceived to be rabid behavior.”

Hunter had told ABC 17 News last week that when he spoke with Woodson, the topic of rabies never came up.

The City of Sturgeon wrote in a social media post on Thursday that “the City has reviewed the dispatch report and body camera footage regarding the recent dog at large incident. The City believes that the officer acted within his authority based on the information available to him at the time to protect against possible injury to citizens from what appeared to be an injured, sick, and abandoned dog.”

ABC 17 News reached out to Mayor Kevin Abrahamson for comment on Thursday. He responded in an email the following day saying:  

“I apologize for not answering yesterday.  I had a few appointments and the day got away from me.  I will try to have you a comment later today.  Thank you for your patience.” 

Abrahamson resigned from his position on Saturday, the city confirmed on its Facebook page. The city later wrote online on Saturday that the first time any aldermen saw the footage was after it was reported on by ABC 17 News. Mayor Pro-Tem Seth Truesdell will perform the duties of mayor until such vacancy is filled following local ordinance and state law.

“Like you we were just as appalled by what we saw. The actions of the Officer involved are not the values and beliefs of the residents of Sturgeon or the board of Alderman. Currently I have made calls to the Boone County Sheriff to meet and discuss an investigation. The officer involved was placed on leave and will remain on leave until further notice. The board of Alderman will be holding a future special meeting to discuss personnel including Officer Woodson. I personally give my condolences to the owners of Teddy,” the post reads.

The post received more than 1,000 comments with many people criticizing the officer and demanding he be fired.

The lawsuit acknowledges the post and states, “In its announcement of or about May 25, 2024, the Board of Alderman acknowledged the ‘investigation’ into Defendant Woodson’s killing of Teddy had not been conducted by them and, contrary to the then-Mayor’s claim that the City had reviewed the body camera video, none of the Board members had seen the body camera video prior to it being shown on the local television news, on or about May 24, 2024, and only after then-Mayor Abrahamson had already cleared Defendant Woodson of any wrongdoing.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Woodson had multiple complaints from residents. Woodson has a Class A peace officer license commissioned by the Hallsville Police Department, Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell confirmed on Thursday.

Woodson was placed on paid leave, according to the Board of Alderman.

Kolde said he will also seek criminal charges.

“I’m an animal lawyer, I’ve done lots of these cases. This is one of the clearest cases of felony animal cruelty I’ve seen,” Kolde said.

Capt. Brian Leer, of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC 17 News on Tuesday that the sheriff’s office will not be investigating this incident. Leer stated that Sheriff Dwayne Carey spoke with a representative of the City of Sturgeon on Tuesday morning.

Board of Alderman Meets The Public For The First Time

On Tuesday dozens flocked to the Sturgeon Recreation Center, many of whom had never been to a city council meeting, demanding justice for Hunter’s dog Teddy. It marked the first time the Board of Alderman had met the public since the incident.

During the meeting, the board said that Woodson would remain on paid leave until they had a chance to meet and make a decision. That meeting happened during a closed session. When the meeting was adjourned the board said they would be issuing a statement within 48 hours.

Outside of the building was a large cardboard poster with pictures of Teddy. During the meeting, several people held up signs reading "JusticeForTeddy".

"I think that it didn’t need to come to Teddy being shot," Sturgeon resident Jon Miller told ABC 17 after the meeting. "I think this could have been handled differently if people spoke up like we did today and go to your town hall meetings and pay attention to who you're voting into office and hold them accountable."

Most of the public comments were focused on complaints about Woodson's conduct as an officer. Jennifer Mixson, who started a petition in support of Hunter, says she used to work with Woodson at the Moberly Department of Corrections.

"Officer Woodson was a bully," Mixson said. He was inflexible, he was sadistic with the inmates. If you look at his record that will reflect my comment."

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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